Red Kite – 2003-07 breeding

Milvus milvus – BARCUD COCH – Scarce visitor

Fieldwork 2003-07 (based on 490 tetrads)

Red = breeding confirmed, Orange = breeding probable, Yellow = breeding possible 

Tetrads in which registered = 43 (8.8%)

Red Kites became extinct as a breeding species in Pembrokeshire in the latter half of the 19th century following intense persecution. They were not recorded breeding during the last atlas survey period but they had been noted lingering in the county into the summer (Rees and Donovan, 1994). The first proven breeding attempt since then was in 2002 when a pair laid eggs near Boncath. This attempt failed but another pair fledged two chicks near the Gwaun Valley in 2003. Since then kites have gradually colonised the north-east of the county. By the end of the survey period in 2007 there were twelve pairs holding territory, at least nine of which built nests, and further expansion has been observed since then. The origins of the colonising birds are not proven but strongly suspected to be from both Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion. During 2008 two adult birds both which were known to have been born in Pembrokeshire built a nest in the north of the county.

Whilst intentional persecution of Kites is happily now a rare event, they are still susceptible to poisoning either illegally by indiscriminate baits set for foxes and corvids or accidentally from second and third generation rat poisoning. This was brought home when one of the first two nestlings to fledge in 2003 was picked up dead before leaving the vicinity of the nest site having died of rat poison.

Another Pembrokeshire-born individual became a road casualty as it stooped to pick up carrion near Welshpool, Powys, during its first winter.

However, despite these incidents, overall survival rate is high and the Red Kite is set to return as widespread and common sight in the county to be enjoyed by all.

Paddy Jenks 

More about the Red Kite in Pembrokeshire